The PSAT test is given in October each year, usually on Tuesday and Saturday of the second week of the month. This test is used to determine the National Merit Scholarships, a program operated mostly by foundations and corporations to enable America’s top students to have funds for college.
Students are eligible for the National Merit program by taking the PSAT in October of their eleventh grade year. At times this can be difficult to determine for homeschooling students, so parents should take into account student age as well as academic records. The top two percent of scores on the PSAT in each state are selected for Semi-Finalist status; one percent are finalists. Each year, Seton averages five or six semi-finalists. Some Seton students have received full four-year scholarships from the program!
In order to take the test, students must register with the guidance office at a local school. You would need to talk to the office as soon as the school opens in the fall, usually in late August. The school will need to know in plenty of time how many tests they should order for the year.
Although Seton does have a school code, students should NOT use the Seton code for the PSAT. The semi-finalists are determined on a state-by-state basis, so students should use the general homeschool code for their own state on this test. Also, do NOT use the school code of the school where the test is taken; that could cause problems in obtaining results. The school codes for each state are on the Seton web site. If you have difficulty finding the codes, call Chris Smith at Seton (540-622-5563) and he can supply the correct number.
Some students take the PSAT earlier than the eleventh grade year, just for practice. This may be helpful to students who have trouble with standardized tests, but usually a Seton education suffices for a good showing. The one area where students tend to have difficulty is the math section. Many would find it beneficial to go through a PSAT prep book and review geometry with a book such as Geometry the Easy Way. These books are available at setonbooks.com.
Students chosen as semi-finalists will have quite a daunting form sent to them. This generally is filled out on-line now, but if you have questions about it, you can call Seton and we will help you.
As with any test, get a good night’s sleep and have a good dinner and breakfast beforehand. Good luck!
The College Prep column will offer advice on the various entrance tests and the processes for college preparation. These articles are not intended only for upperclassmen but also for other students, because much of the preparation for graduation and college needs to be considered in the 9th and 10th grades. The columns will appear at approximately the times that you will need to use the advice given. The topics to be covered in future columns are as follows:
August: The PSAT Test
September: The Early Admissions Process
October: The SAT and ACT Tests
November: The Essay, the Application, and Recommendations
December: The Scholarship Search
January: Choosing the Right College
February: The Service Academies
March: Make Yourself Irresistible to Colleges
April: Material and Spiritual Preparations
May: Final Academic Preparations
June: The Future without College
July: Making the Break
Of course, questions will arise which are not covered in the monthly columns. Please feel free to call the Seton staff with additional queries. Christopher Smith is the Guidance Counselor. Deacon Gene McGuirk takes questions regarding entrance into the military service academies.
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